The confinement of an electron free plasma in a pure quadrupole RF electric trap was considered. The ultimate goal was to produce a large density of mercury ions, in order to realize a trapped ion frequency standard using the hyperfine resonance of 199 Hg(+) at 40.7 GHz. An attempt was made to obtain an iodine plasma consisting of equal numbers of positive and negative ions of atomic iodine, the positive iodine ions, being susceptible to charge-exchange with mercury atoms, will produce the desired mercury ions. The experiment showed that the photoproduction of ions pairs in iodine using the necessary UV radiation occurs with a small cross-section, making it difficult to demonstrate the feasibility of space charge neutralization in a quadrupole trap. For this reason it was considered expedient to choose thallium iodide, which has a more favorable absorption spectrum (in the region of 2000 to 2100 A). The results indicate that, although the ionic recombination is a serious limiting factor, a considerable improvement can be obtained in practice for the density of trapped ions, with a considerable advantage in lifetimes for spectroscopic purposes. The ion pair formation by photoionization is briefly reviewed.